7 Ways to Make That Time of The Month “Easy”
Written by: Amber Alexander
Okay ladies, let’s face it – most of us weren’t graced with the symptom-free regularity of clockwork when it comes to our monthly cycles. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a woman and I love that my body has the superpower of growing little humans inside of me; I think it’s fascinating! But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that there have been days where I just wanted to curl up in a ball with fried food and chocolate and do absolutely nothing.
As a teenager and into my early 20’s, I would get cramps so bad I could feel them in my knees. I would experience 5 days of nausea and cravings for french fries so intense they could bring Genghis Khan down. Ibuprofen and the heating pad were my best friends and you would often find the three of us cuddling under a blanket with at least one of us crying. Then, after I had my daughter (and after the year and a half after she was born where I didn’t have a period at all), the cramps were slightly better, but hormonal migraines got thrown into the mix to make up for it. So believe me when I say, I get it! That time of the month isn’t necessarily my favorite and chances are, you can relate.
But guess what? It doesn’t have to be that way! Even more great news – it doesn’t even require prescriptions or tons of money to avoid this monthly catastrophe. There are some very simple steps you can take to overcome the cramp-cloud and carry on with your life during your period. So, let go of the pity party and try some of these tips and see how you do. Remember, some things may work better for you than others so experiment.
7 Tips for an Easier “Time-of-the-Month”
1. Change up your diet. Try going without dairy and gluten for a bit, as they are considered inflammatory foods and create uncomfortable gas and bloating. You also want to avoid excessive amounts of polyunsaturated Omega-6 fats (think vegetable oil, canola oil, peanut oil, margarine and shortening). Instead, choose fats like coconut oil, real grass-fed butter or ghee and animal fats when cooking. Your body needs fat, especially for during this time of the month, but it has to be the right kind of fat – the Omega-3’s. Also good to note: sugar, while it may sound like the answer to all your achy, PMS troubles, actually makes it all worse. It can cause something called reactive hypoglycemia, which will leave you feeling more exhausted and cranky than before. And nix the alcohol, which is loaded with sugar, not to mention it’s highly inflammatory.
2. Eat More of This. Certain foods are known for easing symptoms of PMS, so try out some of these tasty treats. For mood lifting effects try: avocados, dates and pineapple; to balance out the bloat add some: bananas, figs, potatoes, broccoli or other high potassium foods; B-6 rich foods like chicken or fish, whole non-gluten grains (buckwheat, millet, amaranth and quinoa – which is technically a seed), walnuts and leafy green vegetables will also help pick you up. Or maybe you are feeling a bit spicy? Try adding black pepper or cinnamon to your food or beverage intake, as both have relaxing qualities and are good for relieving muscle tension and back ache. Cinnamon and chamomile tea are great for a pre-bedtime relaxation routine.
3. Get your body moving. Working up a sweat releases endorphins into your body, which can act as a natural opiate, reducing pain and discomfort. Increasing blood flow to the pelvic region also helps to reduce bloating from any water retention you may experience monthly. Aim for 20-30 minutes, at least 3 times a week. It may help to increase that to once-a-day for the week leading up to your period. During menstruation, if you are just too tired to work out, take a break. Listen to your body when it needs rest. Or opt for low impact movement, such as yoga or stretching.
4. Catch Some Zzzz’s. A regular sleep schedule makes a world of difference in all aspects of your health and life. I mean it! Your body needs time to reset each day, restore it’s reserves and get you ready for the new day to come. When you don’t give yourself what it needs to work optimally, not only do you have the obvious side effect of being tired, but it lends itself to a higher level of stress hormones swimming around in your bloodstream, increased irritability and anxiety, as well as a whole host of other problems (like increased cortisol, leading to weight gain). So put down the phone and step away from social media for a bit. Aim for 7-8 hours of restful sleep each night and see how wonderful you feel.
5. Hydrate! Staying hydrated is vital to reducing PMS symptoms. Find a BPA-free water bottle you love and take it with you everywhere! When I struggle with drinking enough water, I put 5 bracelets on my left wrist. With each bottle of water I finish, I move a bracelet to my right. The goal is to have all 5 bracelets on my right wrist by the end of the day. I know it sounds silly, but it really works! If plain water doesn’t float your boat, try some tea. Ginger, raspberry leaf, cinnamon or chamomile are all great options that have PMS-reducing benefits. Want to know what not to drink if your symptoms are worse than you would like them to be? Caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine intensifies any anxiety, irritability or mood swings you may be experiencing and alcohol is a mood depressor, which means it can make you feel more down and more fatigued. It also depletes the oh-so-necessary stores of Vitamin B.
6. Yoni Steam. Give vaginal steaming a try. An age-old tradition from the Maya culture (among other cultures in Central and South America), it is an easy, all natural method of cleansing your uterus that has shown incredible results as far as easing PMS and difficult menstruation (and is great for fertility issues too!). You essentially bathe your sexy bits in steam that has certain therapeutic herbs steeping in it. Be sure to do your research before trying it though; this site and this site both have a lot of really great information on this tradition.
7. Intimacy. Orgasm’s are one of the greatest (and most fun) ways to relieve PMS symptoms. The sudden, strong contraction and then release of muscle relieves tension and cramping, as well as sending an increased flow of blood to the pelvic regions, leaving you open and relaxed for a smoother period; and the release of endorphins is a natural pain remedy and mood lifter, as well as an effective hormone regulator. So go ahead, try it out! And have fun doing so!
Ultimately, you will be able to tell what works best for you to relieve symptoms, but whatever you do, I encourage you to use your “time of the month” as an opportunity to lavish yourself with extreme care and love. Use this time as a monthly reminder to turn inwards – rest and reflect. Be good to your divine self!
As a Certified Holistic Health Coach, Amber Alexander follows her passion for vibrant wellness by supporting others in cultivating greater health and joy, specializing in family nutrition and individuals recently diagnosed with autoimmune diseases and/or food sensitivities.
When not working to make the world a healthier place one person at a time, she can be found on her yoga mat breathing deeply, in her kitchen cooking up nourishing deliciousness for her family and loved ones, or out dancing in the woods. She strives everyday to do at least one thing that infuses her whole being with radiance, joy and strength and believes that a hug can solve almost any quandary.
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